Prosecutions for October 2017

Number Latest Month 10,797
Percent Change from previous month 0.9
Percent Change from 1 year ago 5.5
Percent Change from 5 years ago
(Including Magistrate Court)
-24.2
Percent Change from 5 years ago
(Excluding Magistrate Court)
-17.2
Table 1. Criminal Prosecutions

The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during October 2017 the government reported 10797 new prosecutions. According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is up 0.9 percent over the previous month.

The comparisons of the number of defendants charged are based on case-by-case information obtained by TRAC under the Freedom of Information Act from the Executive Office for United States Attorneys (see Table 1).

When monthly 2017 prosecutions of this type are compared with those of the same period in the previous year, the number of filings was up (5.5%). Prosecutions over the past year are still much lower than they were five years ago. Overall, the data show that prosecutions of this type are down 24.2 percent from levels reported in 2012.

The dip in these cases is partly related to increases in the matters filed in U.S. Magistrate Courts. If magistrate cases are excluded and only Federal District Court cases are counted, the overall decrease in prosecutions is 17.2 percent instead of 24.2 percent. The evidence suggests that part of the difference may be the result of improvements in the recording of the magistrate cases by the Justice Department.

Bar and line plot of FYMON

Figure 1. Monthly Trends in Prosecutions

The decrease from the levels five years ago in prosecutions for these matters is shown more clearly in Figure 1. The vertical bars in Figure 1 represent the number of prosecutions of this type recorded on a month-to-month basis. Where a prosecution was initially filed in U.S. Magistrate Court and then transferred to the U.S. District Court, the magistrate filing date was used since this provides an earlier indicator of actual trends. The superimposed line on the bars plots the six-month moving average so that natural fluctuations are smoothed out. The one and five-year rates of change in Table 1 and in the sections that follow are all based upon this six-month moving average. To view trends year-by-year rather than month-by-month, see TRAC's annual report series for a broader picture.

Cases were classified by prosecutors into more specific types.

The largest number of prosecutions of these matters in October 2017 was for "Immigration", accounting for 53.6 percent of prosecutions. Prosecutions were also filed for "Drugs-Drug Trafficking" (10.8%), "Withheld by Govt from TRAC (FOIA challen" (9.6%), "Weapons-Operation Triggerlock Major" (5.4%), "Drugs-Organized Crime Task Force" (3.1%), "Assimilated Crimes" (2.8%), "Other Criminal Prosecutions" (2.5%). See Figure 2.

The lead investigative agency for prosecutions in October 2017 was DHS accounting for 60 percent of prosecutions referred. Other agencies with substantial numbers of referrals were: FBI (11% ), DEA (8%), ATF (6%), Defense (3%). See Figure 3.

Pie chart of progcatlabel

Figure 2. Specific Types of Prosecutions
Pie chart of agenrevgrp

Figure 3. Prosecutions by Investigative Agency

Prosecutions in U.S. Magistrate Courts

Top Ranked Lead Charges

In October 2017, 6612 defendants in cases for these matters were filed in U.S. Magistrate Courts. These courts handle less serious misdemeanor cases, including what are called "petty offenses." In addition, complaints are sometimes filed in the magistrate courts before an indictment or information is entered. In these cases, the matter starts in the magistrate courts and later moves to the district court where subsequent proceedings take place.

In the magistrate courts in October the most frequently cited lead charge was Title 8 U.S.C Section 1325 involving "Entry of alien at improper time or place; etc.". This was the lead charge for 46.4 percent of all magistrate filings in October.

Other frequently prosecuted lead charges include: "08 USC 1326 - Reentry of deported alien" (24.1%).

Prosecutions in U.S. District Courts

In October 2017, 4185 defendants in new cases for these matters were charged in the U.S. District Courts. In addition during October there were an additional 2002 defendants whose cases moved from the magistrate courts to the U.S. district courts after an indictment or information was filed. The sections which follow cover both sets of cases and therefore cover all matters filed in district court during October.

Top Ranked Lead Charges

Table 2 shows the top lead charges recorded in the prosecutions of matters filed in U.S. District Court during October 2017.

Lead Charge Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago  
08 USC 1326 - Reentry of deported alien 1,560 1 1 1 More
21 USC 841 - Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A 742 2 2 2 More
18 USC 922 - Firearms; Unlawful acts 568 3 4 4 More
21 USC 846 - Attempt and conspiracy 438 4 3 3 More
08 USC 1324 - Bringing in and harboring certain aliens 295 5 5 5 More
21 USC 952 - Importation of controlled substances 118 6 6 6 More
18 USC 2252 - Material involving sexual exploitation of minors 79 7 7 9 More
08 USC 1325 - Entry of alien at improper time or place; etc. 75 8 26 21 More
18 USC 1951 - Hobbs Act 71 9 9 15 More
18 USC 2113 - Bank robbery and incidental crimes 64 10 10 10 More
Table 2. Top Charges Filed

  • "Reentry of deported alien" (Title 8 U.S.C Section 1326) was the most frequent recorded lead charge. "Reentry of deported alien" (Title 8 U.S.C Section 1326) was ranked 1 a year ago, while it was ranked 1 five years ago.

  • Ranked 2nd in frequency was the lead charge "Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A" under Title 21 U.S.C Section 841. "Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A" under Title 21 U.S.C Section 841 was ranked 2 a year ago, while it was ranked 2 five years ago.

  • Ranked 3rd was "Firearms; Unlawful acts" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 922. "Firearms; Unlawful acts" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 922 was ranked 4 a year ago, while it was ranked 4 five years ago.

Among these top ten lead charges, the one showing the greatest increase in prosecutions — up 117.7 percent — compared to one year ago was Title 8 U.S.C Section 1325 that involves " Entry of alien at improper time or place; etc. ". Compared to five years ago, the largest increase — 34.1 percent — was registered for prosecutions under " Hobbs Act " (Title 18 U.S.C Section 1951 ).

Again among the top ten lead charges, the one showing the sharpest decline in prosecutions compared to one year ago — down 9.9 percent — was " Bringing in and harboring certain aliens " (Title 8 U.S.C Section 1324 ). Compared to five years ago, the most significant decline in prosecutions — 21.9 percent — was for filings where the lead charge was " Material involving sexual exploitation of minors " (Title 18 U.S.C Section 2252 ).

Top Ranked Judicial Districts

In October 2017 the Justice Department said the government brought 2297.7 prosecutions for every ten million people in the United States.

Understandably, there is great variation in the per capita number of prosecutions that are filed in each of the nation's ninety-four federal judicial districts.

The districts registering the largest number of prosecutions per capita for these matters last month are shown in Table 3. Districts must have at least 5 prosecutions to receive a ranking.


Judicial District Percapita Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago  
N Mexico 22,662 393 1 3 5 More
Cal, S 18,796 548 2 5 3 More
Texas, W 10,420 616 3 2 1 More
Arizona 7,826 452 4 4 4 More
Texas, S 5,806 465 5 1 2 More
S Dakota 5,781 41 6 33 28 More
N Dakota 5,383 34 7 50 55 More
Alaska 5,334 32 8 81 88 More
Ark, E 4,244 58 9 61 49 More
Tenn, W 4,129 54 10 40 44 More
Table 3. Top 10 Districts (per ten million people)

  • The District of New Mexico — with 22662 prosecutions as compared with 2297.7 prosecutions per ten million population in the United States — was the most active during October 2017. The District of New Mexico was ranked 3 a year ago, while it was ranked 5 for most frequent use five years ago.

  • The Southern District of California (San Diego) ranked 2nd. The Southern District of California (San Diego) was ranked 5 a year ago, while it was ranked 3 for most frequent use five years ago.

  • Western District of Texas (San Antonio) is now ranking 3rd. The Western District of Texas (San Antonio) was ranked 2 a year ago, while it was ranked 1 for most frequent use five years ago.

Recent entrants to the top 10 list were South Dakota , now ranked 6th , and Western District of Tennessee (Memphis) at 10th In the same order, these districts ranked 33rd and 40th one year ago and 28th and 44th five years ago.

The federal judicial district which showed the greatest growth in the rate of prosecutions compared to one year ago — 127.9 percent — was Eastern District of Arkansas (Little Rock). Compared to five years ago, the district with the largest growth — 76.8 percent — was Alaska .

In the last year, the judicial District Court recording the largest drop in the rate of prosecutions — 21.4 percent — was New Mexico .  But over the past five years, South Dakota showed the largest drop — 26.1 percent.

Top Ranked District Judges

At any one time, there are about 680 federal District Court judges working in the United States. The judges recorded with the largest number of new crime cases of this type during October 2017 are shown in Table 4.

Judge Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago  
Gonzales, Kenneth John N Mexico 150 1 3 - More
Moses, Alia M. Texas, W 149 2 1 1 More
Brack, Robert C. N Mexico 138 3 2 2 More
Crane, Randy Texas, S 66 4 5 3 More
Hinojosa, Ricardo H. Texas, S 61 5 7 5 More
Junell, Robert A. Texas, W 59 6 4 4 More
Alvarez, Micaela Texas, S 56 7 6 6 More
Guaderrama, David C. Texas, W 56 7 14 11 More
Montalvo, Frank Texas, W 52 9 15 7 More
Briones, David Texas, W 48 10 16 10 More
Table 4. Top Ten Judges

All 10 of the "top ten" judges were in districts which were in the top ten with the largest number of filings per capit.

  • Judge Kenneth John Gonzales in the District of New Mexico ranked 1st with 150 defendants in cases. Judge Gonzales also appeared in the top ten rankings one year ago (ranked 3).

  • Judge Alia M. Moses in the Western District of Texas (San Antonio) ranked 2nd with 149 defendants in cases. Judge Moses appeared in the top ten rankings one year (ranked 1) and five years ago (rank 1).

  • Judge Robert C. Brack in the District of New Mexico ranked 3rd with 138 defendants in cases. Judge Brack appeared in the top ten rankings one year (ranked 2) and five years ago (rank 2).

Report Generated: November 28, 2017
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